tv [untitled] June 27, 2012 3:00pm-3:30pm EDT
kind of posture. weather forecasting to protect the lives and livelihoods of americans is not the same commodity as tickets to ride. so the details might well turn out differently. >> okay. but there is some method. is there someone actively pursuing the -- or investigating this proposal? any discussion at noaa at all about the potential for commercialization as nasa has done with space x? >> i am not aware -- >> not as an individual effort. you're waiting to be reactive and not proactive about it. >> i wouldn't characterize it that way, dr. harris. we interrogate and interact with the private sector. there's a vibrant enterprise portion of the enterprise. it used to be government as well. we engage with the potential providers of launch services and instruments quite frequently.
we put an rfq out in 2008 prior to letting instrument contracts for gpps and overlook ed. we are more active than your question suggests. i just don't know if anyone yet has seen the weather x blog. it had not been brought to my attention. >> it will be in the record. i would hope someone would be watching something by university scientists being published. even if it's in a blog. at a prior hearing, a panel of experts recommended that noaa undertake an observing system. which i hope you're familiar with the concept. which would evaluate different capabilities and options to determine the best mix of systems that noaa should pursue. absent noaa is basing planning on subjective mediciopinions.
>> we agree with the characterization of ossi has a highly rigorous and good way to observing systems. we do use them and we have used them periodically in the past. we have neither the high performance capacity nor the man power, frankly, to devote to a standing large effort to run multiple ossis. we did, as you know, conduct an ossi or an observing simulation expert to determine the potential loss of data on weather forecasting in the mid-latitudes. i'm sure they will come into play as we look at the gap mitigation strategies that lie before us. we would love to have the capacity to do more of them. they are an important and rigorous tool. >> thank you very much. >> mr. miller, you are
recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i mentioned before we have had many hearings in these subcommittees on these programs, but particularly the gpps program and its predecessor progr program, the late inpost program. the hearings seem to have a familiar pattern to them. we have someone from noaa or nasa or other government agencies saying these programs have been messed up but we're fixing it now. things are on track now. and then we had mr. powner say, no, no, they are still messing up. and he's always been right. but i've heard mr. powner in your testimony today, i have heard terms i have never heard come from your mouth. good progress, solid development. do you think that particularly gpps is on track and what are the remaining issues and risks?
what else can go wrong? everything that could go wrong has. what do you think could still go wrong and how much under control is that? >> well, clearly, it's a much better picture than we have testified on in the past, ranking member miller. i think the couple challenges we see with gpps is operating within the gap cap because the program, when you reconcile the cost estimates, it was somewhere around $14.6. so operating within that cap, there's that $1.7 billion delta. there's a plan to address that, but i think that will be a challenge going forward. in addition, associated with addressing that $1.7 billion gap, this arrangement where you have an arrangement with certain sensors and flying them outside of the gpps program, there's big cost savings associated with that. and i think it's important to keep an eye on that because
that's likely where you're going to get the savings is the way i see the current plan. >> okay. dr. sullivan, that may have sound mildly critical, but if you had been here before, you know that was lavish praise. how confident are you in that $12.9 billion figure for life cycle cost analysis? what are the risks of that not being the right number of something going wrong? >> mr. miller, i don't buy satellites every day either, but i have been around space systems. i think that sounded right on the mark. these are complex programs. they always need carefully watched. i never rested easy until the wheels stopped on the runway after a mission and i don't intend to rest easy until we have these systems in orbit now as well. i think mr. powner has
characterized things fairly and properly. we will stay right on the bubble. having said that, i am confident that we have a solid figure in the $12.9 billion number. the elements of work that were done to move from the $14.6 down to the $12.9 were solidly done. they capitalized on experience with npp, as been mentioned earlier in questioning. they took conservative estimates based on unknowns in performance, modified those downwards. they it dove into remaining elements that were heritage legacy from the ill faded and never lamented end post. and scrubbed those back with respect to the ground system, as mr. powner has noted. moved the ground system to a different set of architectures that are more commercial, off the shelf, modern network protocalls. so a lot of technical things
were done to stack up that new estimate and i have a strong confidence in it. >> okay. mr. watkins, your testimony was optimistic about the go-czar program. it sounds like it's on track, but it's the instruments that still have a ways to go in developing them and integrating them. we know that that has frequently been a stage at which things can go wrong. what confidence do you have that the instruments included like the lightening mapper will succeed and it will be on time and on budget? >> i think one of the things that is critical is that noaa and nasa got started very early on with the instrument developme
developments. and instruments, when you look across satellite programs, are usually the place you begin to run into problems. so i think the fact that the instrument development was early, the fact they have developed instrument prototypes, the instruments are on the path to being completed on time, when you mentioned the lightning mapper x that's going to be the first time we will fly that instrument. it too is progressing along very well. so we are confident in the approach that was taken with the instrument development and the ways in which they are currently being managed. >> my time has expired, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much. i now recognize the gentleman from california for five minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. mr. watkins, maybe dr. sullivan will have some insight on this as well, how much money has just
evaporated from the nim post program? we have some things that are left from this debacle that are worth something, but how much can you say is an actual total loss of value for the american taxpayer? >> do you want me to -- so where we are today tied to the program, approximate $4.3 billion has been spent to date. now out of those resources, we had the development of instruments that are ultimately going to be flying on gpps 1. instruments that are flying on npp. the fact that we had developed a ground system that is actually being utilized today in order to operate the npp mission.
and instrument developments across the board. so a lot of the costs that have been spent today are actually being utilized as part of the overall gpss program. >> that's the basis. how much have we lost? i mean, there's no loss at all? it's not really a debacle? it's an ideal program? we have been told just the opposite. representing at least hundreds of millions of dollars of actual evaporation of wealth. >> sir, we would have to take that under advisement and get back to you. >> that would be nice. people should understand while evaluating this program, of the $4 billion, it's not all gone. there's a large chunk of it for which we will use eventually. however, that doesn't
necessarily make up for the cost overrun concept here where it started at such a low level and ended up escalating i think over double as it stands now when it could go up more. just a little bit about this senate recommendation that chairman hall brought up in terms of weather satellites going from noaa to nasa rather than being this joint system that created so much havoc with nim-pos. the suggestion is that we take this procurement decision-making process out of the hands of noaa and nasa and give it to nasa. and that's what you didn't want to comment on until we had the
administration come down with their policy, and that's perfectly understandable. that's what you have to do. but let me just ask about common sense here. noaa is the agency that utilizes this technology. noaa is the one that's going to utilize it and doesn't it make sense that noaa and other age y agencies, such as the geological survey, to assume a greater role in actually procuring the equipment they need rather than nasa, who is basically aimed at exploration of space? wouldn't it make sense to go the other direction? that we're giving more rights to noaa to make those decisions rather than sharing it with nasa, which is not going to be necessarily utilizing the
equipment after its already been procured? >> i think the logic you enunciate was some of the logic that drove the decision to unwind the program. to get responsibility aligned as tightly as possible with fiscal resources and program management. my colleagues at nasa appreciate the importance of this mission to the country as well as we do. i'm confident if the congress and its wisdom does direct this change -- >> i would hope the people start looking at that. if we're going to transfer authority and put some -- focus authority it should be the people that are going to use the system. and it would go to the heart of the matter of let's have nasa focus on what it does, and let's have noaa and geological survey and others focus on their mission, which is to look at the earth. nasa's mission is not that.
one last thing, mr. chairman, with your permission, another issue was brought up by chairman harris during his questions. dealt with the privatization and looking at space x as a model, which will save the taxpayer enormous amounts of money in the long run because it's proven successful, or at least now if it keeps proving itself successful. there are equivalents in noaa to this, and there are in most major agencies. if we're going to bring down this it trillion and a half dollars worth of deficit spend ing that we have every year, we have to find ways of making those type of savings as represented by space x. and let me just note that noaa has a fleet of ships in order to
transport their various programs and their various missions around and determine what the weather is like. i would see there would be an equivalency of space x transporting things into space and does a better job than leaving it to a government agency. i would say there's also an equivalency in noaa that instead of maintaining a fleet, that could be contracted out and would probably save money. i know we looked at that several years ago and we didn't have the political will to move forward on that, but maybe the fact that we're about ready to go under because of deficit spending will encourage us to look at those type of alternatives. thank you very much, mr. chairman. >> recognize the gentle lady from california. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i was interested in the question
about the responsibility of noaa versus nasa. i think his line of questioning is one i have as well, which is if we're going to look at noaa to be our lead in the science of all of this, you know, maybe we ought to think about vesting more completely the responsibility with you instead of having you ask your brother agency. i'm sure that's going to lead to what we really want, i guess, that would be my statement rather than a question. i won't put you on the spot. when you think about the history of what's gone on, i mean, it was really in 2005, i think, that the cost overruns were so outrageous that they triggered the program breach review. at the time, we had a republican president and a republican committee. even the leadership of this
committee couldn't get the attention of the president at that time. if you think about that to where we are today, we have made tremendous progress. doesn't mean we have to be satisfied with where we are. i don't think anyone is. i'm not hearing that from any of the witnesses, but we have made tremendous progress and we have to make more. it's easy for us in the the congress to look at the administration of either party and complain, but sometimes we need to turn the attention on ourselves. and so this is the question for you if you can answer. we have not had stable funding because of our inability to appropriate in the normal course of business. how would a continuing resolution, if that is what we end up with again this year, impact your programs? dr. sullivan and mr. watkins, if
you could answer that, that would be very helpful. >> i appreciate your remarks and question. with respect to a continuing resolution, one big item that would concern me there is fy 13 is when goes-r has a scheduled budget bump in order to accommodate purchase of a launch vehicle. if we're unable to proceed with the scheduling and acquisition, that could compromise schedule. with respect to gpss, if we were held on a continuing resolution at the appropriated level of the fy 12 plan, that's in line with what we have e come forward for in the president's budget. i would forecast with the same caveats of the forecast. less impact on jpss. >> the only thing i would add to that is that with respect to the
goes-r program, currently we're at a budget in this fiscal year. we're planned to be increased to $803. if we were under a continued resolution that went beyond the first quarter of the fiscal year, it would begin to have negative impacts to the cost and the schedule. specifically, the goes-r mission. so a continued resolution hurts us more in the goes-r program. >> so it could end up costing us more, assuming we continue with both efforts down the line. and if we didn't, this is a lot of money. where i come from, this sounds like a lot of money. yet when you think about what's going on in terms of very severe weather impacts, what was there $60 billion in fiscal year 2011 on dramatic events. and i guess my question maybe you can't answer.
if you can get a 10% or 15% in damage, have you done an analysis of what kind of warning leads to what kind of decrease in damage on the ground? if it's a hurricane or a tornado or if it's -- whatever kind of event? >> we have not seen any rigorously evaluated economic studies that make that trace all the way through improvement of a forecast, to improvement of a warning, to the human response of that warning. so i can't give you a well-vetted figure. >> maybe that's something we ought to ask the world to take a look at. but we do know an ek doe tally that adequate warning in tornado alley made a huge difference in the loss of life, and it would be good to have some kind of analysis. if we're talking 10% or 15%
reduction in loss on a $60 billion figure, that's way more than we're talking about to create the warning. and with that, mr. chairman, i think my time has expired and i would yield back. >> thank you very much. now recognize the gentleman from mississippi, mr. plaz so, for five minutes. >> as the chairman of the subcommittee, i would like to echo chairman hall's concerns to transfer $1.6 billion from noaa to nasa for the procurement of weather satellites. from my perspective mr. hall raised the most important point when he said nasa has its hands full. hearing about delayed testing, continuing issues with the james webb space telescope and the list goes on and on. if this senate proposal goes through, nasa will now own these troubled weather satellites also. just based on their history, there's a good chance we'll have
additional cost over runs that now nasa, not noaa, will have to cover in the nasa budget. so with that, mr. watkins, the devil's always in the details. has nasa done anything to analyze this switch from noaa to nasa? >> again, sir, we have been working with the administration as they have taken this senate proposal under advisement. that's continuing as we speak today. they are looking across critical assets of satellite programs. they are looking at the overall budget and the overall schedule as well as the critical need to get these data products into weather prediction. so it's -- it's a very complicated thing to evaluate. they are in the process of evaluating the senate proposal. >> so basically, you'll take
your analysis and you'll provide that to the administration? is that where the statement of administration policy comes from that chairman hall requested and no one was able to tell him when they may receive that? >> i don't know the answer to that question, sir. we'd have to get back to you. >> okay. say when there are cost overruns, just based on the history of this program, what missions is nasa going to have to reduce their funding for or eliminate? such as earth sciences or -- >> at the current time, again, the nasa role in the weather satellite programs on behalf of noaa is one of acquisition agent and we implement these critical products on behalf of noaa. all of the funding that currently is tied in with this program is noaa funding. it comes to nasa. we build their satellites and
launch them. and then commission them and bring back the critical data. so at this point, there are zero nasa dollars involved. >> so the $1.6 billion transfer f it ends up costing $2 billion, noaa will pick up that extra $400 million and transfer that to nasa? >> sir, i was only speaking of the existing relationship. i wasn't speaking of the senate proposal. again, i think that would have to be evaluated. >> okay. thank you. dr. sullivan, the recommendation for the program came from an independent review team chaired by mr. tom young. it's our understanding that he's engaged in another review for noaa. i have several questions related to that. what has noaa charged him to look at? will this review provide recommendations or just
findings? will this review be available to congress? and also will the findings be reviewed, vetted and edited prior to sharing with congress? >> thank you for the question. tom young does chair our independent review team that is charged with looking across the entire satellite portfolio. it is a late afternoon. his cochairs is tom warman. the rest of the panel, we can provide you the names, are experienced professionals. their charge is to look at any and all aspects of budget management, technical formulation that contribute to our satellite programs, assess them and provide both findings and recommendations. they brief me directly. they write their report. their reports are not redakted by someone before reaching the
noaa administrator, nor as i understand at least, are they in any way redakted before they come to this committee and your colleagues on the other side of the hill, whether verbally or written. >> thank you. i yield back. >> thank you very much. recognize the gentleman from california. >> i can imagine what things were like when the budget reduction became known and the uncertainty in what your funding would be like. has that passed now or are things still in the scramble mode to figure out what's going to happen and how you're going to deal with this shortfall? >> may i just clarify you're referring to the continuing resolution or some other budget issue in mind? >> yes, the resolution. >> it was a difficult year with not in hand until some time, i
forget the calendar date of the enactment, and then we had spin plan negotiations with various chambers to get alignment on the use of those funds. it was very late in the year. it was less than 30 days before we had full agreement from all parties on the hill about how to spend our resources. that is, as you suggest, extremely difficult to manage. it's difficult to manage a federal agency itself. it's extremely difficult to maintain performance for contractors, university colleagues subject to that uncertainty. for jpss the level of the spending that we were held at because of the cr, even when supplemented by the better part of $90 million by a reprogramming that the administration requested and the congress approved, still was far below, hundreds of millions below the target of the ramp up. so with that backdrop, i would say a few things.
i would say that rather like the ripple in a carpet or a bed spread, some of that is moving through the system in terms of delays that were incurred that don't just go instantly away when a funding stream is restored. we are still seeing some of that consequence. it it definitely did strain the team. it strained it in terms of professionalism and desire to keep moving. it creates tensions within the team. i think largely the team is passed that. the trust and battle rhythm of the team around jpss has improved notably in the months i have been aboard. the final thing i would say is the general climate of uncertainty certainly is a tension that we all have to bare. we certainly hear about it from our contractors, as perhaps you do as well. they have a rhythm and a head
count running on the factory floors building these spacecraft. will they have to think about moving the workforces around? one of the things that i think we all worry about is across all federal programs, if the funding is that uncertain, can they have the confidence of getting the a-team on these programs? in this business sector might we be concerned about lesser quality of talent applied to our work and doing the public's good. >> we're all concerned about the data gap if it's going to be bad enough for the public to notice, if it's going to cause damage and so on. i'm a math me tigs from my background. do you think the mathematical modelling is going to pick